Attorneys and activists with the Project 21 black leadership network are pleased about today's U.S. Supreme Court decision on race preferences, and hope the Court's latest ruling on race-conscious school admissions policies will become decisive in finally ending government-enforced rules creating arbitrary demographic quotas.
"Today, the Supreme Court moved us closer to the colorblind principle that Martin Luther King advocated and that is embedded in the 14th Amendment," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a former constitutional law professor. "I'm pleased that the principle of treating all Americans the same under the law can go forward in Michigan.
In the case of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last October, the justices considered whether the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals correctly voided an amendment to the Michigan state constitution, passed by voters in 2006, prohibiting preferential treatment in public employment, education and contracting based on "race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin." The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which became Section 26 of the state's constitution after its enactment, was supported by 58 percent of Michigan voters. It was struck down, however, by the 6th Circuit in 2012.
Project 21 submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Schuette case written and joined by the Pacific Legal Foundation , noting that "[t]he clear effect of Section 26 is to prohibit the State and its political subdivisions from adopting race- and sex-based preference programs." The brief also presented factual data about how the prohibition of race-based preferences in California increased diversity and minority retention rates. Similar to Michigan, California voters outlawed race preferences in public college and university admissions in 1996.
Project 21 held a meeting of experts to discuss the case featuring Jennifer Gratz, the executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative after the Court's oral arguments. Gratz was the plaintiff in the 2003 case of Gratz v. Bollinger that found the University of Michigan's race conscious admissions policy violated the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. Her talk and the discussion following can be viewed online here.
"It remains to be seen as to whether this is the definitive ruling which will eliminate racial preference policies," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a former senior counsel for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. "But I am encouraged that we are moving towards creating an equal playing field where the government does not choose the winners and inadvertent losers."
During the last term of the U.S. Supreme Court, Project 21 was involved in the U.S. Supreme Court race preferences case ofSchuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action as well asFisher v. University of Texas at Austin on remand from the Supreme Court to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the previous U.S. Supreme Court term, it was involved in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin and the voting rights case ofShelby County, Alabama v. Holder.
Project 21 legal experts and other members of the organization have discussed these cases and others in media interviews in venues that include MSNBC, the Fox News Channel, HBO, Glenn Beck's Blaze TV, the nationally-syndicated Jim Bohannon radio show, Florida Public Radio, the Christian Science Monitor, Reuters and many others.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated .